The remaining contingent of Indian military personnel stationed in the Maldives will leave the island nation by 10 May as planned, following extensive negotiations between the two nations. This was confirmed during the fourth meeting of the India-Maldives High Level Core Group held in New Delhi, where both sides discussed bilateral relations, including defence cooperation and joint development projects.

A statement from the Maldives Foreign Ministry highlighted that the final batch of Indian troops, who have been operating a Dornier aircraft and two helicopters gifted by the Indian government, will be replaced by Indian civilian experts. This move aligns with President Mohamed Muizzu’s electoral pledge to replace military personnel and is set to maintain operational oversight of the aircraft for a specified time. The logistics for this transition are on track, and the next High Level Core Group meeting is scheduled for June or July.

Relations between India and the Maldives have faced challenges since President Muizzu’s election last November, primarily due to his campaign pledge to remove Indian troops. Despite claims during the campaign that over a thousand Indian soldiers were stationed in the Maldives, government figures suggest the actual number was around 80.

As the phased withdrawal continues, the Maldives has seen two batches of Indian military personnel leave, the first in March and the second on 9 April. The current government has since procured military drones from Turkey and is in discussions with the U.S. for additional aircraft.

The withdrawal of Indian military personnel signifies an evolving dynamic between the two neighbours, focusing on shared development and security priorities. Minister of Foreign Affairs Moosa Zameer is due to visit India on 9 May, marking the first high-level visit since President Muizzu assumed office. This meeting will be pivotal in shaping the future of India-Maldives relations.